I tend to like the more puzzle oriented RPG's too but also enjoy a good brawl now and then. I think this game has a pretty good balance, but I have to admit, this is the first RPG that I actually need help with, which, of course, is why I got involved with this web board. I honestly don't think I would have made it through without the help of all of your clever brains out there. I probably would have given up by now. As far as the side quests go, I think if they weren't there I would have thought this game was a rip off. Although, I'm not too crazy about all of the red herrings. (The fishing pole, deep water etc.) The game starts to get pretty boring when you're beating your head against a wall and accomplishing nothing. But that's just me. I like for everything in a game to all make sense in the end.